Anyone that uses WordPress blogging platform knows that there was a severe drought in themes this past year. Searching for new themes in 2006 would return you themes created in 2005- welcome to boring.
The cry for WordPress CMS style themes as well as a more professional 2.0 bend brought a fantastic designer into the limelight, that designer being Brian Gardner. The Revolution Themes designed by him with a CMS / Magazine style interface appears to have opened a new craze in the WordPress theme world. These Premium themes start in price from $49 all the way up to $100 for a single license with Brians themes landing in the $79 range and up (not bad). Some of the themes are worth every penny, other themes designed by others are ripoffs of other themes, but for a price, the theme drought is over.
Here’s the thing with WordPress themes, even the new Premium themes- they can be complicated in many cases, there’s no money back guarantee, and they lack automation. Also, these themes leak SEO due to percieved repeat content by search engines and require close management and adjustment using SEO plugins.
Another issue I have is the idea of charging for the initial theme without allowing access to the admin panel. Many of these larger CMS style themes require modification of content independently of the blog- for example setting up featured articles or new stories- these updates may require you to update featured content often as opposed to static content.
So here are a few tips & suggestions
for new and seasoned WordPress users when looking at themes to purchase.
- Before dropping coin on a pretty premium theme, you need to discover the purpose of your site in general. Content Management Systems are more like websites with a blog background.
- Read the tutorials section of the theme you’re contemplating. Read each tutorial to discover your depth of knowledge editing the various regions of the theme.
- Click through the demos of the themes placing your content in the various sections in your mind (or on paper as I do)- does it work for your situation? Do not assume it is simple to remove or add sections as a removal of a section could destroy the themes look and navigation although re-purposing a section is generally the way to go.
- Seek out the level of assistance that comes with the theme- is the designer willing to work with you to work out solutions to your unique needs- if not, move on.
- Is there a forum that addresses code or theme problems (premium doesn’t mean perfect)?
- Are the plugins needed to use as the theme is demonstrated, packed into the theme already for installation? For $49 dollars and up they should be.
- Never purchase a Premium theme similar to another in your profession unless you intend on having a professional designer change your theme dramatically. Many newer, less savvy agents must understand that just because you’ve been okay with template sites like advanced access and xsites in the past does not mean someone who is live / self hosted already will want their design copied – be creative and be unique, theft of layout and design is not a compliment, nor is copying the branding or copyof someone elses site. (here’s an awesome example of CSS & copy theft.)
Suggested Designers: (Designers I personally like)